Dutch Hold Royal Celebration For New King

Crowds, adorned in orange, gather each year for Queen’s Day in the Netherlands, a tradition that is changing now that the country has a king. (Caroline Nelissen/YJI)
AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – There are few things I can think of that are as typically Dutch as our Koninginnedag, or Queen’s Day, celebration. On this national holiday, people dress up in bright orange clothes, hats and sunglasses and there are festivities and flea markets around the country.

All of this happened today as well, but this year’s Queen’s day was one like no other.

A Dutch flag on display for Queen’s Day. (Caroline Nelissen/YJI)

For one, it will be a long time before we have a national holiday called “Queen’s Day” again: from
next year onward, we will be celebrating “King’s Day” instead.

On April 30, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated from the throne, and the nation inaugurated her son Prince Willem-Alexander as the new king in a ceremony in the Nieuwe Kerk, or New Church, in Amsterdam.

He is the first male successor to the throne since King Willem III, who died in 1890.
On the central Dam Square in Amsterdam, scores of people gathered Tuesday morning to watch the abdication of the former queen and in the afternoon the inauguration of the new king on large screens.

Orange balloon hats, twisted into crowns, are among the festive headwear for Queen’s Day. (Caroline Nelissen/YJI)

While the Dutch aren’t exactly known for being a passionate people, there seems to be something about royal events like this that unleash an enthusiasm in Dutch people that is matched only by the celebrations that take place when the Dutch national soccer team is playing.

Of course, not everyone was excited: some people believe the concept of royalty – even though the Dutch royal family has no real political power – is outdated and should be abolished.

Expect more orange next year on King’s Day in the Netherlands. (Caroline Nelissen/YJI)

However, while there were a few people holding up protest signs, the vast majority of the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves, cheering loudly when King Willem-Alexander was introduced as the new king, alongside his wife, Queen Máxima.

It still feels a bit strange to speak of “King Willem-Alexander,” “Queen Máxima” and “Princess Beatrix” after having used different titles my entire life, and celebrating “King’s Day” from next year onward will surely take some getting used to.
However, regardless of these changes, there is at least one thing we can count on: there will be orange. 
Caroline Nelissen is a Senior Correspondent for Youth Journalism International.